The day the world changed for the Kunchu community, elephants and all!
It was the morning of day six in Kenya and it had already been a very full week of two filter distributions a day, in-depth updates on sustainability projects, and time spent with the kids at Hope Beyond Center. Our time in the community was mostly centered in the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro training hundreds of families on hygiene, sanitation, and how to use the water filters.
The sun was already out in full force as our amazing team of water ambassadors loaded the life-changing water filters into the van. Our team piled into vehicles freshly fueled for the journey, and this time we headed away from the mighty mountain. We drove for almost two hours and briefly stopped on the red dirt roads we have come to love, to pick up our guide to our final destination.
We drove for another hour and saw no one except for a lone motorbike with the familiar yellow jerry cans strapped to the side. The vehicle finally came to a stop and when we stepped out of the car, I couldn’t believe we had arrived and what I saw before me…We unloaded from the vehicles, smeared sunscreen on, and loaded up our hands with supplies. Yes, in this very rural setting there were families waiting for us to arrive so they could receive the training and tools they needed to have consistent access to safe water for every day moving forward.
Was this the actual water source for families for kilometers all around? The leaders we were with informed us that elephants, zebras, other wild animals, cows, goats, and humans all gather to collect their daily water from this very water pan.
There were light-colored large soccer ball-sized droppings scattering the ground. Elephant dung. Huge footprints from the resident elephants who use this watering hole made deep depressions in the dried mud. Some were so deep you could stand in the hole made by the leg of the elephant and half your body would disappear. Hundreds of cattle, sheep, and goats were enjoying a drink of water and were not deterred by us standing on the shore of the water pan.
There was no shade to be found and we knew we wouldn’t be able to seek relief from under the thorny acacia trees. We resolved if the women of the community could come and gather here daily to fetch water, we could stand out in the hot afternoon sun for a few hours working to see the futures of those that had gathered forever changed.
We were introduced to the women’s local leader and she began to get everyone organized and into place so we could begin the training. Our water ambassadors quickly jumped into action setting up the demo bucket as well as the water filter buckets. Just over the top of the water pan a herd of zebra gathered tempted by a close water source but our group size must have made them skittish because they didn’t come any closer. The cows and goats were bolder and didn’t seem to mind at all, passing right behind our training to drink in deep.
We gathered on top of the dried mud and were careful to not fall into a deep footprint left by an elephant. The training on hygiene and sanitation began. We carefully went through the posters making sure the translator had plenty of time to communicate the importance of these habits connecting them to the nuances of culture. With each question and answer session, you could see the confidence building and the dots connecting as important information was being shared and discussed. This is a critical part of our distribution so there is a solid foundation for where diseases start, how they spread, and how to stop them in your home.
Moving on to demonstrate the water filter is always like watching a miracle unfold before your eyes. Taking highly contaminated water full of disease and amoebas (parasites) and seeing it transform into something that is as safe and clean as you have in your home is enough to leave your jaw on the mud floor. It is almost too good to be true and there is often great hesitation in people believing it is safe to drink. I always volunteer to drink the water and show that I trust the filter and the safety of the water coming out of it. This leads to many hands outstretched wanting to try the ‘sweet water’ as well. They often drink the entire cup realizing that they aren’t even hydrated because drinking dirty water is like playing Russian roulette. From that day forward, things are forever different and there isn’t any need to boil the water, add Waterguard (bleach solution), or use any other devices. The technology in the filters we use is amazing proving them to be effective and efficient!
After our large group training finished, they went through the data collection line and onto their small groups where they will have hands-on time with their personal filter. It is such a special time and they take pride in knowing this tool will save not just their life, but that of their family! The women gathered together at the end extending a beautiful song of thanksgiving. They offered a word of prayer as they dedicated their water filters and a few tears were shed in awe of what felt like a holy moment with the ONES in front of me. We had traveled a long way to meet with this group, and because of the COVID-19 restrictions on our groups were limited in size but that didn’t stop us from showing up in ways that served this community to the best of our abilities.
When you give to Just One Africa’s Clean Water Program, this is the kind of impact you get to make! The families who received water filters are enjoying clean water still today because someone gave! There remain thousands of people’s names on a waiting list who are wondering and praying when it will be their turn to be called to a training and distribution. This year in 2020 we want to redeem what has been such an extremely challenging and painful year by adding what we have to see 2020 families’ lives changed in the most life-giving ways!
YOUR giving can be matched impacting twice as many families when you give today!